With the dreary cloud known as the lockout hanging over the heads of every NBA fan, I thought I would take an optimistic position and rank the ten best games of this" upcoming" Hornets' season. Not surprisingly, the Hornets have only two nationally televised games and six games on NBA TV.
I might look back at this post in about three or four months and laugh about the time I wasted late on a Wednesday night. Check that, I will look at this post and laugh about the time I wasted late on this late Wednesday late.
But, the least I can do as a fan and a writer is expect that a full 82-game schedule will be played and roll out some columns for you guys to read. Hey, it's not as if I haven't written something in three months.
So, without further ado, click the jump to see the top ten Hornets' games of the (possible) 2011-12 NBA season.
10. March 7th - New Orleans at Sacramento
I'm not going to lie, I'm looking forward to this game for one simple reason: The Jimmer! Yes, the Hornets will visit Sactown and be hit with a heavy dose of Jimmermania for the second time. However, the first time they travel to Arco Arena will be for the second game of the season. By March 7th, Jimmer will probably have established himself as a starter in the Kings' lineup if he isn't already inserted at the beginning of the season. We will be able to watch Jimmer after he accumulates months of NBA action and looks less like a rookie.
Will Jimmer Fredette shock the experts and become a great NBA player, or will he be the next J.J. Redick? I can't give you the answer to that question. But, will watching Jimmer hoist transition threes that are closer to mid-court than they are to the actual three-point line. You've got yourself a surefire yes.
9. February 6th - New Orleans vs. Cleveland
I didn't think I would mark a Cavs game on my calendar for a long time after LeBron left to join D-Wade and Chris Bosh and form the Heatles (yeah, I did extend that sentence just so I could include "Heatles"), but after their intriguing draft I'm actually looking forward to watching Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson play in the NBA. I'm higher on Irving than most others, and Thompson shot up draft boards right before draft night.
Obviously I don't expect Cleveland to be a good team next year, but if their rookies have an easy transition and learn well on the fly, the Cavs could, at their best, be a 30-win team. As they like to say, what's not to like?
8. April 18th - New Orleans at Memphis
Memphis showed in the playoffs last year that they are capable of rising up and playing with the best of the best in the Western Conference. This game is incidentally the last game of the season for the Hornets and the Grizzlies and you can be sure that there will be postseason implications. I assume that these two clubs will be in the thick of the playoff race at this point and will be jockeying for seeding heading into the playoffs. Two desperate teams in a crucial game make for great drama and entertainment. One thing I can assure you of is the level of defense in this game will be top-notch.
7. December 4th - New Orleans at Oklahoma City
I am one of those people who believe that the Thunder are primed to rule the West for the next decade. Russell Westbrook's minor troubles aside, Sam Presti has truly done a fantastic job acquiring and assembling talent into a robust young team that has gained valuable playoff experience over the past few years. The Westbrook-CP3 matchup will surely be a fun one to watch over the course of 48 minutes, and Kevin Durant's jumper is one of the finest things on the planet.
These franchises are currently headed in two opposite directions, but for this night they will be pitted against each other. You'll be wrong if you think Chris Paul won't bring a little extra juice to this one.
6. November 24th - New Orleans at LA Clippers
This is the first of those two aforementioned nationally televised games as the Hornets will head to the City of Angels to take on Eric Bledsoe and the rest of the Clippers on TNT. Just kidding, of course Blake Griffin is the star attraction in this one. Griffin wowed the league and its fans last year with his -- what am I saying, just watch this. Words do no justice.
I have got to say, the Clips really have put together a nice nucleus of players. Griffin and Bledsoe, along with Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan (if and when he is re-signed), are exciting and the perfect counterbalance to their overly dramatic big brothers the Lakers. Watching Griffin throw down a few dunks will be treat enough to tune in for this contest.
5. January 2nd - New Orleans at Miami
N'awlins kicks-off the New Year with a trip to South Beach to play the Heatles (twice in one column!). It will give the Hornets the chance to start 2012 right if they can beat the defending Eastern Conference champs. Let's not forget, New Orleans did beat the Heat in their second game as a Big 3. Sure, that might have been well before Miami hit its stride, but it is something that can be looked at positively.
To be honest, any Miami game is one to watch. The collection of stars on this team makes them the most intriguing in years and I would be lying if I told you I don't care about how this team performs next year or if LeBron finally snags a ring. They are polarizing, to say the least.
4. November 6th - New Orleans at LA Lakers
This is the third game of the year and also the first time the Hornets will get a shot at exacting a little revenge after Los Angeles knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round just a few months ago (seems like centuries ago, doesn't it?). I have a feeling that New Orleans will come out with a little more energy than usual and try to knock the Lakers out early and often. This will be one of the best games of the year.
3. December 21st - New Orleans vs. Dallas
The defending champions come to the Big Easy just a few days before their big Christmas Day matchup with the Heat to take on N'awlins. Don't forget, Dallas was the team to end the Hornets' perfect beginning to last season after eight games. While that was a long time ago, Dallas did just win a little-known trophy more recently and you have to believe that every team will bring more to the court when they play the Mavs. That's just how it is when you play the reigning champions, and the Hornets will not have a different approach to this game. Also, you should know that this is one of those six NBA TV games.
2. November 2nd - New Orleans vs. Chicago
This game is Opening Night for the Hornets as they will open up the season against the Bulls. Last season was a breakout campaign for both Derrick Rose and his teammates as they took the NBA by storm and posted the best regular season record in the entire league. While they didn't fulfill the expectations of many in the playoffs and basically fizzled out in the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Heat, you best believe Chicago will enter this game with fury. The Bulls look to set the tone of games early, and that is their mindset for this whole season.
However, they are entering the Hive and it will not be an easy go for them. I don't envision New Orleans rolling over and accepting a beating from the Bulls. It will definitely be a highly competitive game and a great way to start the season.
1. February 17th - New Orleans at New York Knicks
If the picture didn't give it away, this is your game to look most forward too for a variety of reasons. The game will obviously be played at the world-famous Madison Square Garden, it will be broadcast on ESPN, and Chris Paul could be wearing a Knicks jersey! Well, I doubt that New York has the assets to swing a trade for CP3, but this game is in fact the first Hornets' game after the trade deadline (Feb. 16th). If he is to be traded, it will have to be before this game or else it will be during the next offseason. So, as you can now tell, this game is the most interesting game of the season and is number one on the list.
Now, let's get back to the lockout.
It sucks. It's going to be long. It will piss a lot of people off.
I can't say whether or not these games will be played, but I can only hope. We all should.